Queen of Badassery [Cassandra Cain]
Dazzling DC Ladies Month
"I don’t kill… but I don’t lose, either."
Cassandra Cain/Batgirl III/Black Bat/”The One Who is All”
Batman #567 - Mark of Cain Part 1
Who is She?
Cassandra Cain was born as one of David Cain’s many attempts to create the perfect body guard—“The One Who is All”—for Ra’s al Ghul his intent to raise a child from birth in the language of martial arts. Deciding the child’s skill could only be in the its genetics, Cain searched for the perfect mother in Sandra Woosan, a martial artist raised in Detroit with her sister, Carolyn. Cain murdered Carolyn in order to drive Sandra to her full potential in her rage—she was inspired by him and the League of Assassins, giving her life new purpose. After he defeat her, Sandra accepted his deal to be the mother of his child. She gave birth to Cassandra, then left an hour later, reborn as Lady Shiva.
From an early age, Cassandra was denied affection and proper mile stones, the parts of her brain designed for speech instead being programmed to read body movement like a language and predict their next moves. This would later caused a form of dyslexia which deterred her ability to read and write later on. Cassandra was not only trained by Cain, but also by Bronze Tiger, Merlyn the archer, and Alpha the Kung fu expert and was taken to a number of location to train through her childhood. Cain eventually began taking her on hits in order to make killing and violence the norm for her. It was when she was eight that he attempt to begin her career as an assassin by having her murder his target Faizul. Cassandra, a child who had no idea what she was doing, followed Cain’s plans, reading the situation as just another game. However, when she delivered the lethal blow, she literally felt Faizul dying and knew then what it meant to take a life. Frightened and scarred by what she did, Cassandra ran away from Cain and spent the next nine years wandering until she traveled to Gotham.
There, she was taken in by Barbara Gordon as a student, learning how to speak under her guidance. It was at that time she became involved with the Batfamily, recognizing her father’s work and saving Commissioner Gordon before he could kill him. She was given the mantle of Batgirl after this time and became Barbara’s ward while Batman kept an eye over her on patrol.
Cassandra solo series began with her slowly being introduced to normal life. Soon after her career began, she saved a man named Jeffers, a telepathic. Thankful and thinking her mind was ‘messed up’, he wrote her mind so she could think in words and have the ability to talk. At first elated, Cassandra soon found herself unable to read the movement of others, temporarily losing her fighting ability. She later forcibly retired by Bruce and put under training by him. She, then, slowly began to speak.
Through her Batgirl career, Cassandra often found herself wondering about her origins and was often at odds with Cain when he refused time and again to reveal the details of her birth. During this time, she met Lady Shiva and then began fighting, Cassandra confronting her about her parentage. Shiva refused to say. After barely being able to defeat the woman, Cassandra asks her to train. Shiva accepts, but only under the condition that in one year they meet to fight to the death. She agrees and in that one year, Shiva defeats Cassandra, but realizes she has a deathwish and restarts her heart so they may fight again, Cassandra being the victor this time.
Cassandra would also train both Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown, leading to a friendship with the latter that would effect her for the rest of her series. She would have a short romance with Superboy, but later decided to be friends. Cassandra would lose her mantle a second time when Bruce decided her unfit and “erratic”, but the removal would be temporary when she fights him—allowing them to understand each other’s feelings—and he gives it back to her. After the events of War Games, where Stephanie Brown ‘dies’, Cassandra leaves for Bludhaven in order to keep Tim Drake under her eye. It was that this time that Babs, who had been growing frustrated with Cassandra’s refusal to learn how to read, would call her ‘stupid’ which leads to Cassandra cutting ties with her. Alone, Cassandra slowly begins to enter the social world on her own, however she is attacked by Deathstroke and Ravager soon enough, uprooting her peaceful pause. Becoming focused on finding her parentage again, she leaves her new home and travels to find Shiva. It is then she becomes aware of her true past as”The One Who is All”, being introduced to her many failed brothers and sisters and Shiva’s students. She is attacked by her brother Mad Dog and killed, but Shiva takes her body and puts her into the Lazarus Pit, deciding she is not done with her yet.
After revealing the details of her birth, Shiva and Cassandra fight one more time to the death. Cassandra wins, killing her mother, but leaves her hanging over the Pit and walks away.
It is later found out that Cassandra has become the new Leader of League of Assassins under the name of Kasumi. Tim Drake finds her and attempts to reason with her, however Cassandra kills her father and a fight proceeds between the two until a explosion takes place and Cassandra disappears. It is revealed later that Deathstroke and Cain had planed this, injecting Cassandra with a serum that clouded and twisted her judgement under their will. She again appears as a member of Titans East under Deathstrokes commands and faces Ravager, but Tim injects a counter serum that would wake her up.
One year later, she takes up the Batgirl mantle and is officially adopted by Bruce after fighting David and her demons and freeing herself from her pasted. She would later join the Outsiders, but would soon disappear.
Cassandra reappeared finally as Black Bat in Hong Kong as its Batman, having become part of Batman Inc.
What’s Great About Her?
Cassandra’s story is a long tale of a young woman mistreated by those who had loved in the name of violence and power. Despite a destiny meant for killing and fighting, she finds her roots in protecting the innocent and never killing—not because it is Batman’s law, but because she will simply not allow someone to die when she could save them. Her story is real, her personality relatable, and her brand of justice refreshing and touching.
Even in the face of a disability that limited her spectrum and her long isolation from society, Cassandra let nothing stop her, not even her personal demons. She’s a character that is good through and through—not only an inspiration, but a heroine worthy enough to become the best of the legends.
Batman: No Man’s Land
Batgirl (Volume 1)
Batgirl (Volume 2)
Bruce Wayne: Fugitive
Batman: War Games
Batman: Gates of Gotham
Red Robin #17 and #25
Batman and the Outsiders
If you’re making a list of the best fighters in the Batfamily and Cassandra Cain isn’t #1 or #2…I judge you.
And here we have Cassandra Cain, master of stealth, demonstrating her superior assassin training by hiding under Superboy’s bed.
"Oracle. I want to… thank you. For everything.”Cassandra Cain in Batgirl #25
Imagine Steph and Cass snapchatting Babs.